How to receive data from a Dropbox API Webhook with PHP

Have you set up a Dropbox API webhook and are having trouble receiving the data sent by Dropbox to your app?

The reason for this is likely to be the encoding of the data. Dropbox doesn’t send the data as form data as you would expect (ie application/x-www-form-urlencoded or multipart/form-data) and therefore you can’t simply fetch the data using $_POST (which is designed as a wrapper for form encoded data).

The solution is to get the raw request (minus the headers) using the following code:

$raw_data = file_get_contents('php://input');

You’ll then need to json_decode the data, as Dropbox sends your app user IDs of users with changes in a JSON format.

If you haven’t used webhooks yet – they’re great for when you have an app that is monitoring a Dropbox folder.  There is no need to constantly poll for changes, let Dropbox notify you when something is changed!

If you have any questions, or need more advice on the Dropbox API, please add a comment…

How Joomla generates passwords for registration

If you need to generate a Joomla friendly password within your Joomla component, then use the following function:

private function generatePassword($pw)
     $salt = JUserHelper::genRandomPassword(32);
     $crypted = JUserHelper::getCryptedPassword($pw, $salt);
     $password = $crypted.':'.$salt;
     return $password;

Simply pass in the password the user has chosen to return an encrypted password that you can store in a database, recognisable by the standard Joomla login system.  The function will return a Joomla password.

If you wish to generate a random password rather than rely on user’s submission, try this:

$pw = substr(md5(rand()), 0, 7); //7 character random string - courtesy of

How to limit text with or without the Joomla Framework

We’ll start with Joomla. If you need to limit a string to a specified character count then why not use Joomla’s built in functions.  The advantage of using Joomla’s truncate function over standard PHP functions is that Joomla will not cut up words – it keeps words whole, only limiting the block of text at a space closest to the limit specified.

How to use Joomla Truncate()

echo JHTML::_('string.truncate', $text_to_truncate, $character_limit);

Note that the function also adds three dots (…) to the end of the sentence – if you’re not a fan of this, see below…

How to truncate and preserve words outside of Joomla

Of course, you might not be using Joomla and need to limit characters without cutting up words.  In which case, here is a function for doing so:

function truncate($text, $length = 0, $end='...')
// Truncate the item text if it is too long.
if ($length > 0 && strlen($text) > $length)
// Find the first space within the allowed length.
$tmp = substr($text, 0, $length);
$tmp = substr($tmp, 0, strrpos($tmp, ' '));

// If we don't have 3 characters of room, go to the second space within the limit.
if (strlen($tmp) >= $length - 3) {
$tmp = substr($tmp, 0, strrpos($tmp, ' '));

$text = $tmp.$end;
return $text;

It’s the function Joomla uses, with built-in Joomla functions swapped out for standard PHP functions – so it can be used in any PHP application!  Thanks to the Joomla development team for this one.

I’ve also added in an optional third parameter that allows you to specify the text at the end.  The default is set to ‘…’, but you can pass in anything you like, even a read more link:

echo truncate ($text_to_truncate, 100, " - <a href='' target='_blank'>Read more</a>");

The above will output your text, limited to 100 characters (without splitting up words in the process) and give a ‘Read more’ hyperlink at the end.

If you have any questions or need further information, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

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